History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"Ballad of Jacob Wetterling, RIP" tells haunting story

We remember Jacob
That smiling little boy is lodged in our consciousness forever. My generation has had that endearing smile embedded in our thoughts for as long as we can remember. I was age 34 when Jacob Wetterlling disappeared. In 2016 I'm 61. The massive investigation languished for so long. We have heard that any investigation that lasts 27 years is "a failure by definition." Headlines screamed at us recently that the answers were now known. I'm sure most in my generation thought the day would never come. Jacob's picture on that "wanted poster" (with drawn pictures of two generic-appearing male suspects) would just hover indefinitely. It wasn't meant to be solved, we suspected. The mystery was just part of the tapestry of our existence.
It's like when I was young, I began to assume the Viet Nam war would go on forever. I thought the protests would go on forever. Day after day I soaked in the media reports. But then the war ended, or at least we made our clumsy withdrawal. Remember those people trying to hang on to helicopters? Remember those helicopters pushed off of ships to make more room for exasperated refugees? But the war did indeed end, or at least our involvement did, belatedly.
And now we learn that the 27-year-old Wetterling investigation has total closure. It happened overnight. Our eyes bugged out as we saw the headlines. For about two days we were mesmerized by it all. And then a strange lull seemed to set in. We withdrew from the subject. Oh, but we're not done digesting all the background of this mystery/tragedy.
This is what's going on: Wetterling case researchers, journalists and op-ed writers are taking time to get caught up with their thoughts and research. The time is over for "whodunit" books. Books of a completely different nature need to be written now.
A lot transpired over 27 years. Law enforcement went wayward which is a generous way of saying they made mistakes. There was the tragedy of focusing on a wrong suspect or POI. This tragedy led to the telling of the Wetterling story in a totally cockeyed way, by asserting that the abduction was done on foot instead of from a motor vehicle. Law enforcement ought to regret what it did to that persecuted person, a farmer/teacher. But we're shocked to see that, based on public comments from the Stearns County sheriff, not only is there no inclination to show regret or to apologize, he wants to encourage suspicions toward the guy, using vague statements. I'm astonished. 
Barney Fife, in song

I ended up doing more writing about the Wetterling case than I ever intended. I found the more that I wrote, the more I had new thoughts popping into my head. I guess this is a characteristic of a profound mystery. Law enforcement exhausted vast resources on the case. Many of those time-consuming efforts now look, in retrospect, to have been extraneous. I could become even more cynical and say the investigation became an excuse for many to burn up their eight-hour days. I have heard specifically about FBI efforts that clearly fell in that category: annual visits to some poor dude who just happened to live in the vicinity of the Wetterlings.
Were it not for the efforts of an unpaid blogger and a national media celebrity, the case would never have been cracked. We will see new books on the whole tragic episode, won't we?
For my part, in addition to my online journalism, I'm trying to commemorate the whole thing in song/poetry. Oh, I do this all the time. When I'm feeling comfortable writing this art, it is totally relaxing, not work at all. Occasionally I'll get a song or two professionally recorded.
My new creation, "The Ballad of Jacob Wetterling, RIP," has a melody tailor-made for it. But I doubt I'll have it recorded. It is such a depressing subject, but so was the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and Gordon Lightfoot wrote quite the song about that.
I invite you to read my haunting lyrics. Does this help provide closure?
"The Ballad of Jacob Wetterling, RIP"
by Brian Williams
Jacob never wanted to be famous
He just sought to be a little boy
In that humble town of St. Joseph
How could there be anything but joy?
Jacob was in tune with Minnesota
Bleeding purple Sunday afternoon
Soaking in the life there in outstate
Where the folks are genuine and true
God created people oh so different
Mostly we reflect what is good
Mostly we embark on each new day
With His plan of living understood
We know life is fickle and capricious
Something bad can happen any time
Still we know God's love is transcendent
Giving us resolve to survive
Poppy Bush was leading our great nation
Timberwolves were in their maiden year
Hrbek was our fav-rite first baseman
Minnesota knew how to cheer
It was fall and warmer than expected
Just the kind of day that lifts the soul
Jacob and his pals were insistent
Getting out and going on a stroll
Down the road they ambled with enjoyment
Going to secure a VHS
No one could have seen that menace coming
No one could conceive of what came next
Jacob never saw another sunrise
How we searched and ferreted for truth
We were all endeared by his picture
There he was preserved in his youth
Law enforcement made a fateful error
They named a farmer as a POI
They spun their wheels and languished so badly
Would that we could get Barney Fife
In the end a blogger named Joy Baker
Became the hero we were looking for
Her zeal became the key to finding answers
CNN empowered her to score
Law enforcement had to change its thinking
Its arm was twisted 'til there were screams
Without John Walsh and Joy they were helpless
They were treading water, so it seems
Finally there were answers in the headlines
We now knew who the devil's agent was
He never will serve time for the murder
'Cause he struck a deal, that's the buzz
Jacob never wanted to be famous
He wanted to exist like us all
He'd still be friends with Aaron and Trevor
Like that night they strolled in the fall
© 2016 Brian R. Williams

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